HomeStandard StyleDodge Challenger Hellcat: The cat from hell

Dodge Challenger Hellcat: The cat from hell

standard wheels:with Andrew Muzamhindo

Ever wondered what a cat from hell looks like?

There are some car names that are controversial. Who in their Christian mind names a car Dodge Challenger Hellcat or Dodge Challenger Demon?

All the same, humans are “turned on” by such names for they portray some machoness. Bad boy image is a must for muscle cars.

Dodge Challenger Hellcat is one of them. The name is synonymous with speed, muscle, power and fearlessness. If it were an actor, it would be The Six Million Dollar Man from the famous TV series enjoyed by our generation in the 1980s. Six Million Dollar Man is USAF Colonel Steve Austin, portrayed by Lee Majors.

Austin is an astronaut who is seriously injured when his spaceship crashes. Handsome and athletic, Austin undergoes government-sanctioned surgery, which rebuilds several of his body parts with machine parts, making him cyborg-like. After he recovers, his machine parts enable him to have superhuman strength and speed, as well as other powers. With these powers, Austin goes to work for the Office of Scientific Information, battling evil for the good of mankind. The Hellcat could easily be him.

This is as American a muscle car as it gets. In Zimbabwe, the red eyes we know are those of our colleagues after staying up too late the night before by Sam Levy Village pubs and clubs; or after bungee jumping off the Vic Falls bridge. None of those are any fun. The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye, now that’s a whole different red eye!

The 2019 Challenger Redeye is a raw, instantaneous thrill that forces nervous smiles from drivers, passengers, and on-lookers. The main downside is its interior has lagged behind, but its enthusiasts are not after interiors, but the brute speed and power exposed by the intimidating sound it makes. The Redeye is an apex predator, and in my book it is the best and “angriest” muscle car out there

With nearly 800-horsepower trying to make its way to the rear wheels, the Hellcat Redeye’s power may not be all that usable, but it sure is fun. With 959 Nm of torque, competition has nothing on this beast. Speed of 0-100 in 3,4 seconds makes it one of the fastest supercars out there. Off the line, it’s little faster than lesser Hellcats, which in turn are not that much faster than those naturally-aspirated SRT 392 Challengers — even the 305-series tyres that come with the widebody package are little match for the supercar-worthy levels of power cranked out by the cat from hell — but once all 2 041kg of car are rolling along, the ponies and torques shove this brute forward like it weighs half that

Like all Challengers, this beast makes for an amazing highway cruiser, thanks to its expansive cabin, rock-steady ride, and Barca-Lounger seating. Unlike all Challengers, however — looking at you, AWD Challenger GT — the Redeye is always, always able to pass any other vehicle, under any other circumstances. The Redeye will whip them all even my favourite the Ferrari.

As always, Fiat Chrysler is a master of the details. You can’t help, but notice the Jeep-ness on this vehicle. It’s something we have come to expect from the carmaker that hides silhouettes of Sasquatch on assorted Jeeps. I’ll give you a hint about one: The Hellcat logos on the instrument panel and flanks of the car? Yeah, that cat’s eyes look awfully bloodshot.

Sorry, Ford Mustang, but the Dodge Challenger is still the best-looking muscle car on sale today. And it’s better than ever in post-facelift widebody Hellcat form, with the twin hood scoops and flared fenders give it this mean attitude. Imagine a warthog smoking a chewed-up cigar and wearing an eye patch and not giving a damn about the Rhodesian Ridgeback barking at it.

The Hellcat width gives it such visual menace even on tight, winding roads where the car takes up enough lane to make you nervous when trucks whiz by on your right. And it’s doubly inconvenient when sneaking through parking lots, where placing the fenders located somewhere past those squared-off corners is a sort of clenched-jaw guessing game with the potential to end in a very expensive crunching sound.

Not helping matters: The handling, which suffers a bit from a soft suspension and slightly numb steering that make it hard to place during spirited driving. Granted, in a vacuum, that’s what you’d expect from a two-and-a-quarter-ton American car, but considering how much more dynamic and exciting the Challenger’s main Motown rivals feel when you toss them through turns, this beast never feels more past its prime than when hustling down winding roads.

The muscle car culture is almost non-existent in Zimbabwe. I guess these are cars that thrive in a booming economy due to their fuel economy and it cannot be your one and only car. As it is, most Zimbos struggle to buy a Japanese “hand me down” vehicle.

l andrew@muzamhindo.com

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